Frank Maguire
Panentheism
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By Frank Maguire
June 22, 2010

"Events and changes in the universe affect and change God. As the universe grows and learns, God also increases in knowledge and being." (A tenet of Panentheism) For a thorough critique of the Panentheist heresy, read Jesus Among Other gods, by Ravi Zacharias.

Allow me a short prefatory. It exposes my feelings (and beliefs) about the philosophies and theologies produced by scholars who examine things as honestly and perfectly as the human condition allows. Acknowledging the humanity of the philosopher and the theologian, we are able to forgive them for their sometimes belligerent attitudes toward who disagree with them.

From what we've been indoctrinated into, very little, if any, humor came out of the New England Puritans. I prefer to believe that those hostile to the Puritans have not the wit to understand any humor aside from that written on the bathroom wall and that (often the same) written into the scripts to today's uproarious effluvia called "entertainment."

Anyway, Henry Ward Beecher, in Proverbs from Plymouth Pulpit had this to say in reference to that which is presented by theologians, theosophers, and creedalists: "Doctrine is nothing but the skin of truth set up and stuffed." (The proof is in the stuffing?)

I choose to imagine Beecher wearing a mischievous grin when he produced this, and the perplexed look upon the faces of some of the hearers/readers who are not graced with the flexibility of a humorous bent. Those who like rigid trees are blown-down when their dogmatic creed suffers some serious winds.

I know what I have just written puts me in dangerous territory. So, I preemptively defend myself by asking that I not be equated with the cynicism and skepticism of such as Emerson, Tillich and Voltaire (though even here I share some points).

I am not saying that theologians don't have their place. I am saying that in re. Scriptural Christianity I think they take up too much "place." Man does not come to Christianity by theological bread alone. Some might accuse me of making a theological statement of my own. One is certainly entitled to one's opinion.

What about "Panentheism?" I ask you to bear with me. I know that panentheism is, though an ancient heresy, not a theology understood by many in our time.

I was attempting to explain panentheism to a friend who is a pastor. When I used the word, the pastor interjected, "You mean pantheism!" I said "No, I don't. There are similarities, but panentheism is a type of syncretism that extends pantheism."

There are two books (which I recommend) which explain panentheism: A Wonderful Deception — The further New Age Implications of the Emerging Purpose Driven Movement, by Warren Smith, and Out of India — A true story about the New Age movement, by Caryl Matrisciana.

It is best to allow panentheism to speak for itself. Here is now M. Scott Peck defines it in The Road Less Traveled (subsection) "The Evolution of Consciousness:" "If you want to know the closest place to look for grace, it is within yourself. If you desire wisdom greater than your own, you can find it inside you.... To put it plainly, our unconsciousness is God. God within us. We were part of God all the time."

Warren Smith also provides us with the notions of mega-church Pastor Rick Warren: "What I am proposing to do is to narrow that gap between pantheism and Christianity by bringing out what one might call the Christian soul of Pantheism or the pantheistic aspect of Christianity."

Panentheists don't "narrow down" Christianity, they expand it into a "broad way." What did Jesus have to say about the "narrow" way? "For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it." (Matthew 7:14)

Caryl Matrisciana, was born into the religion called "Christianity," and she was raised in India, where she was influenced by Hindu gurus and became a New Ager. She closes her book with the words of Jesus. "Take heed that no man deceive you, for many shall come in my name, saying 'I am Christ;' and shall deceive many." (Matthew 24: 4,5)

"Then, if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there, believe it or not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew (sic.) great signs and wonders (ed. Like burgeoning "churches" full of enthusiasts), insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. (Matthew 24:23-24)

"I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man cometh unto the Father, but by me." (John 14:6)

Again, I suggest that if you want to understand panentheism, you might want to acquire, read, and study Smith's A Wonderful Deception, and Matrisciana's Out of India.

© Frank Maguire

 

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Frank Maguire

Frank Maguire was born in Dorchester, MA, 1938, attended schools in Massachusetts, California, and Arizona, where he completed degrees in music and English writing/Journalism. Frank has been married to Helen Isabel Maguire née Estevez of Culver City, California, since 1957. They have six children, 14 grandchildren, and 10 great grandchildren.

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